Chapter 11: Real and Suspected Terrorists


Thomas Homer-Dixon, “The Rise of Complex Terrorism”

Understanding

  1. Homer-Dixon says terrorism’s reach has been extended by three technological advances: the easy availability of increasingly powerful weapons, improved communications and information processing, and increasing opportunities to turn non-weapons technologies into destructive means. How does each of these make terrorism easier in the twenty-first century?
  2. What does Homer-Dixon mean by complex terrorism?
  3. Not only do contemporary terrorist have a greater capacity to cause damage, Homer-Dixon says, but western societies are increasingly vulnerable to terrorist threats, for two main reasons: our societies are increasingly complex and interconnected, and people, wealth, knowledge, and communications are more and more concentrated in relatively small areas. How does Homer-Dixon think these contribute to our vulnerability?
  4. What does Homer-Dixon mean by the psychological network? How does it multiply the effects of terrorism?
  5. What are our weakest links, according to Homer-Dixon? How are they particularly vulnerable?
  6. Homer-Dixon says we need to “loosen couplings” in our networks if we want to make complex terrorism less effective. What does he mean by this?
  7. What does Homer-Dixon mean by “circuit breakers,” and how could they protect us against complex terrorism?

Evaluation

  1. Homer-Dixon argues that complex terrorism is potentially more dangerous than attacks directly on people. What are his reasons? Do you agree with him? Do you think such attacks are likely in Canada? Why or why not?
  2. Suppose the Toronto 18 (see chapter introduction) had been successful in their plan to bomb two buildings in Toronto and another building at a nearby military base. Do you think such an attack would have had the multiplier effect discussed by Homer-Dixon? Why or why not?

Louise Arbour, “In Our Name and on Our Behalf”

Understanding

  1. Why did the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council reject confessions obtained by “fear of prejudice or hope of advantage exercised or held out by a person in authority” in the Ibrahim case of 1912?
  2. What is the male captus bene detentus doctrine?
  3. What does Arbour mean by the “old normal”? What does she mean by the “new normal” How and why are they different?
  4. Why does Arbour criticize secret transfers and detentions?
  5. Arbours says countries, including Canada, are avoiding criminal courts for suspected terrorists and turning instead to administrative law. What is administrative law? What does it cover? Why does Arbour criticize this shift?
  6. What is the principle of non-refoulement?
  7. “Of course, I see no objection for governments to argue, in good faith, that the constraints imposed on them by the law should be relaxed. What they cannot do is blatantly disregard them. Whether any law should be changed gives rise to an appropriate debate at the legislative level and to judicial oversight,” Arbour writes. Why does she say this?
  8. Arbour criticizes the practice of seeking diplomatic assurances that a person being returned to a country known to practice torture will not be tortured. Why?

Evaluation

  1. Why does Arbour criticize security certificates? So you agree with her? Why or why not?
  2. Why does Arbour criticize the “new normal”? Do you agree with her criticism? Why or why not?

Louis A Delvoie, “Terrorism: Global Insecurity or Global Hyperbole?”

Understanding

  1. Delvoie, a former Assistant Deputy Minister in the Department of Defence, argues in a military journal that Canadians’ fears of terrorism are overblown. Why does he say this?
  2. People who do not understand the difference between Islamic and Islamist are ignorant, Delvoie says. What is the difference? (Part of the definition in the Glossary was left out; look up “Islamist” online.)
  3. How does Delvoie think we should deal with the threat of international terrorism?

Evaluation

  1. Delvoie says the international terrorism pales in comparison to World Wars I and II and to the Cold War. Why does he say this? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
  2. The overblown rhetoric around international terrorism has negative consequences, Delvoie says. What sort of consequences does he mean? Why are they negative? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?

Charkaoui v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration)

Understanding

  1. Section 7 of the Charter guarantees life, liberty, and security of the person, and the right not to be deprived of them “except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” The Supreme Court argued, unanimously, that the security certificate procedure violates section 7. Why did they say this?
  2. The Supreme Court argued that security certificates also violated section 9 of the Charter, which guarantees the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned. Why did they say this?
  3. The Court said that security certificates do not necessarily violate section 12 of the Charter, the right against cruel and unusual punishment or treatment, but that the security certificate procedure before the Court did violate section 12. Why did they say this?
  4. What remedies did the Court propose?

Evaluation

  1. The Supreme Court ruled the security certificate procedure unconstitutional, but it left it open to the government to bring in a different procedure that could withstand a Charter challenge. In 2008 the federal government passed Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (certificates and special advocates), which added a special advocate to the process whose role is to protect the interests of the person subject to a security certificate during closed proceedings. (See Public Safety Canada, Security Certificates, http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/scrt-crtfcts-eng.aspx, and CBC News, Security certificates and secret evidence, 21 August 2009 [last updated 05 September 2012], http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/security-certificates-and-secret-evidence-1.777624.) Do you think Bill C-3 adequately addresses the concerns raised by the Supreme Court? Why or why not?
  2. Security certificates apply only to landed immigrants or foreign residents of Canada, not to citizens. Do you think security certificates should apply to Canadian citizens? Why or why not?

Trudy Govier and Wilhelm Verwoerd, “How Not to Polarize "Victims’ and ‘Perpetrators’”

Understanding

  1. Govier and Verwoerd argue that calling people either victims or perpetrators creates a false dichotomy between them. Why do they say this?
  2. “The notion of a victim who is purely innocent and good is unrealistic, and functions to encourage moral arrogance and discourage moral humility,” Govier and Verwoerd write. Why do they say this?
  3. In addition to being logically problematic, the language of victims and perpetrator s is ethically unfair, Govier and Verwoerd say. Why?
  4. Govier and Verwoerd identify three levels of militant agency. What are they? How do they describe each level?
  5. It is unfair to hold only perpetrators responsible, Govier and Verwoerd argue. Why?
  6. The third reason Govier and Verwoerd give for criticizing the victim–perpetrator dichotomy is that people’s motives in the case of political violence are usually social and political, not just individual, but victim-perpetrator language obscures this? What are their reasons for this claim?
  7. Govier and Verwoerd quote Christopher Browning, who wrote a book about some Polish participants in the Nazi genocide. “Explaining is not excusing; understanding is not forgiving,” Browning wrote. What does this mean, and why do Govier and Verwoerd agree with it?
  8. The fourth reason Govier and Verwoerd give against the victim–perpetrator dichotomy is prudential: when hostilities cease, the primary participants must be reintegrated into the community, or they will continue committing political violence or become criminals. Why do they say this?

Evaluation

  1. Do you agree with Govier’s and Verwoerd’s claim that the perpetrators of political violence are not the only people responsible for the violence? Why or why not?
  2. People who commit political violence do have political as well as individual motives. Why do Govier and Verwoerd think this should make a difference in our evaluation of them? Do you agree? Why or why not?

Comparisons

  1. Homer-Dixon focusses on terrorist threats to infrastructure rather than directly to human lives. Why does he think complex terrorism is so important? Do you think Delvoie would agree with him? Do you? Why or why not?
  2. Suppose a landed immigrant originally from a country known to practice torture was found by legal and constitutionally-sound means to be a genuine terrorist threat. Would Arbour think it would be permissible to send that person back to his or her birth country? Would the Supreme Court? Do you? Why?
  3. How do Arbour’s criticisms of security certificates differ from the Supreme Court’s? Do you think one set of criticisms is better than the other? Why or why not?
  4. The Supreme Court argued that security certificates do not violate the rule of law. Would Arbour agree? Why? Do you? Why or why not?
  5. Would Delvoie agree with Arbour’s criticisms of the “new normal”? Why? What do you think, and why?
  6. Eleven members of the Toronto 18 (see chapter introduction and Suggested Readings and Websites) were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two and a half years to life in prison. Most of them have been or will be released from prison. What would Govier and Verwoerd say should happen to them after their releases? What would Arbour say? Why? What do you think should happen to them, and why?
  7. The Animal Liberation Front (see chapter introduction) frees animals from laboratories and then destroys the laboratory so it cannot continue experimenting on animals. They have a strict policy of never physically harming people or animals, and there are no documented cases where people or animals were harmed by the ALF. They do, however, commit property damage, including bombing empty laboratories. Do you think they are terrorists? Why or why not?
  8. A hate crime is as a crime committed against a person or property because the person or property belongs to a group that the perpetrator(s) hate. Often perpetrators intend to send a message to other members of the hated group that they could be next. In Canada, most hate crimes are committed against people of colour (especially black people), Jews, Muslims, gay men and transgendered people. Do you think hate crimes fit Claridge’s definition of terrorism (see chapter introduction)? Should people who commit hate crimes be considered terrorists? Why or why not?